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Native plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees

Find out which wildflowers are best to draw watchable wildlife to your yard.


A native plant like the common milkweed makes up the food web that attracts insects and the predators that feed on them. The physiology of many of these insects are locked into the plants with which they've co-evolved.

AP Photo/Dean Fosdick

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Attracting a steady population of birds, butterflies, and other watchable wildlife to your yard is a matter of providing habitat – a combination of food, water, and cover. ()

The challenge comes in finding the right plant partners. Different plants draw different wild creatures:

Birds are attracted to plants and shrubs that produce seeds, berries, and fruit.

Butterflies and moths, bees and hummingbirds look for plants that provide pollen and nectar.

Insect pollinators favor plants with broad leaves for laying their eggs and then providing forage for their hungry larvae.

Here are some native plants preferred by:

Adult butterflies: nectar and pollen from common milkweed (), wild onions (), purple coneflowers (), wild blue phlox (), prairie clover (), black-eyed susans (), showy goldenrods (), prairie spiderwort (), and sky blue asters (), among a host of others.

Butterfly and moth larvae: violets, milkweed, butterfly weed, sheep sorrel, and grapes, among others. Also consider planting tulip poplar, aspen, oak, maple, and willow trees.

Hummingbirds: columbine (), cardinal flower (), larkspurs (delphiniums), milk vetch (), and harebell ().

Bees: Brightly colored blooms – grow white, yellow, and blues rather than red, which entomologists believe bees can't see. Try clover, lupine, sunflowers, yarrow, poppies, purple coneflowers, and coreopsis.


On the Net:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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